If you’re a Mississippi resident and starting to consider an estate plan, it’s important to know how the state’s specific laws could affect how you plan for inheritance and succession. You’re designating your wishes for a time when you’ll be unable to speak for yourself, after all, and the right direction could prevent a variety of headaches and familial difficulties later on.
Why a Will is Worth It in Mississippi
The state of Mississippi has an intestacy law (the state of dying without a will) that passes on some of your assets to your closest relatives. However, this doesn’t apply to many valuable pieces that need specific designation:
- Life insurance proceeds
- Retirement-based funds
- Payable-on-death bank accounts
- Several other financial accounts
With a properly written estate, you can designate who will receive these assets, whether that’s a co-owner or beneficiary. Mississippi’s intestacy law also outlines inheritance plans for specific spouse/child situations depending on who your survivors are. There are several different variations, so it’s important to consult a qualified estate attorney.
How to Make the Will Official
If you’ve decided to write a will, you’ll be advised to sign it with two witnesses present who can also sign it. If you choose to create an affidavit from those witnesses and have both that and the will notarized, it does make your will “self-proving”, which speeds up the probate process as the court can accept the will without having to contact the aforementioned witnesses.
Paternity for heirs has to be established within one year of opening the estate.
You can also name an executor who can fulfill the provisions and wishes of your will following your death. If you don’t name one, the probate court may appoint someone to do this on your posthumous behalf.
If your total estate value is less than $50,000, your inheritors may be able to skip the probate process with a “simple affidavit” that would allow them access to assets (like a bank account) with a copy of the signed affidavit access for asking alongside a death certificate.
How Children Can Inherit Assets in Mississippi
Your children must be legally yours in order for an inheritance to occur. Legally adopted children have just as much right to their intestate share as biological children do. If the person who died placed their child up for adoption and that child was adopted by another family (other than your spouse) they are not legally eligible to receive an inheritance from the decedent. Additionally, foster children and stepchildren that were never legally adopted by the decedent are not eligible to receive a share as the decedent’s child.
If a child was born outside of marriage, they can still receive their share as long as a court established paternity within one year of the estate opening or if the decedent participated in a marriage ceremony with the child’s mother that later turned out to be void. Mississippi recognizes any child born to the decedent’s wife during their marriage as his child. Posthumous children (the decedent’s children born after the decedent’s death) are also eligible to receive a share. Grandchildren will receive a share only if their parents are not alive to inherit.
Lastly, half-relatives can inherit as much as “whole” relatives (a half-sister versus a full sister, for example). Posthumous relatives conceived before the decedent dies but born after his/her death are eligible to inherit as if they had been born while the decedent was alive. It’s important to note that posthumous relatives must survive at least 120 hours after birth in order to be eligible for inheritance.
In terms of estate planning, this is just a broad overview. Estates are a highly personalized process and so much of it depends on total asset value and the wishes of everyone involved. This is why it’s vital to consult a professional Mississippi estate planning team like the attorneys at the Law Offices of Rusty Williard. We’re here to help you navigate the process and ensure your estate truthfully reflects your hard work and posthumous wishes. Call us today at (601) 824-9797 to schedule your free consultation.